Monday, May 30, 2016
A National Moment of Remembrance
30 May 2016: Today marks the 148th annual observance in the United States of America of what has come to be known as Memorial Day. This day was borne out of the American Civil War in order (posted below) to honor our war dead. General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic issued General Order Number 11 on 5 May 1868 establishing this day of remembrance as Decoration Day.
On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield gave a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers who are buried there.
Today you may notice veterans of the VFW and civic organizations around the country collecting funds for veterans causes. With each donation they will hand to the donor a Red Memorial Poppy in return. These donations benefit war orphans, widows and servicemen and women in need. This American tradition was born in 1915 when an American woman named Moina Michael penned a poem in response to "In Flanders Fields."
We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.
More recently the Congress of the United States passed the National Moment of Remembrance resolution is December 2000. The purpose of the resolution has been to request all Americans "informally and voluntarily in their own way to pause from whatever they are doing at 3 PM local time observe a silent Moment of remembrance and respect and, or in listening to the playing of Taps.
Today we honor all of our war dead knowing that while all servicemen and women have given some, there are more than 1.8 million who have given all since 1775 in the sacrifice of their lives defending the Republic, its values as enshrined in the Constitution of the United States of America.
1. The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.
We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, “of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion.” What can aid more to assure this result than cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foes? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their deaths the tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.
If other eyes grow dull, other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain to us.
Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from his honor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon a nation’s gratitude, the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan.
2. It is the purpose of the Commander-in-Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to lend its friendly aid in bringing to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.
3. Department commanders will use efforts to make this order effective.
By order of
JOHN A. LOGAN,
WM. T. COLLINS, A.A.G.